A Victoria council decision supports eliminating free Sunday parking to help pay for youth bus passes.
The vote, made at a special committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 11, came following a motion by Mayor Lisa Helps to charge regular rates for Sunday parking starting May 1, and dedicate the revenue to youth transit.
“It would be great to give all of our residents free transit, but we need to start somewhere,” said Helps during the meeting. “Just like recycling education started with kids in school so kids would go home and tell their parents not to throw out pop cans, so [is] true with transit.”
Speaking with Black Press Media, Helps said the initiative is also about tackling poverty.
“This puts that money – up to $545 a year based on BC transit youth rates – back into parents’ pockets,” she said. “And down the road, back into youths’ pockets.”
Currently, the city generates approximately $7 million annually from nearly 2,000 on-street parking spots that charge for use Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Victoria is still investigating the total revenue that could be generated from Sunday parking but staff used pro-rated Saturday statistics and past survey results to determine that Sunday parking could bring in up to $600,000 a year.
Helps said she will be asking the transit commission to provide free transit for youth in the region and discussed collaborating with BC Transit and the local school district on the project.
“This motion doesn’t take care of everything but it certainly says that should transit fail us, we’ll have close to $600,000 a year towards youth transit passes,” said Helps, adding Sunday parking revenue estimates could be conservative.
Helps proposed a pilot project start this fall, but Coun. Ben Isitt said the project should move faster and be fully implemented by September.
“I hope our council will take the position that we fund it this year and put our money where our mouth is in terms of being in a climate emergency,” Isitt said. “I think we have to demand results if we are going to put out these funds and not just hold out on a promise to young people that they will have access to transit, I know it’s a priority to them.”
In estimates, staff assumed parkade parking would remain free on Sundays and noted that the Yates Street parkade – which frequently reaches capacity on Sundays – will likely become even busier.
Sunday parking fees and revenue are expected to be finalized in the city’s budget presentation on Feb. 28.